Monday, March 02, 2015

Civil Air Patrol and IFR Immersion

Between the frigid temperatures, reckless amounts of snow, and ridiculously tall snow drifts, N62TB hasn't even left the hangar in nearly two months.  But, aviation's been active nonetheless, on two fronts.

First, I've become active in the Civil Air Patrol, specifically the Lorain County Composite Squadron (OH-003) based on Lorain County Airport.  Most of the preliminary requirements have been met, so am just waiting on the formal Mission Scanner training to begin - hopefully soon!

Second, to enhance my comfort level in flying approaches in actual conditions with 2TB, I've been assembling a plan to make a trip to fly a series of unusual or challenging approaches.  Here's the current plan:

The final tally is 1460 miles, 10+ hours, and 17 total approaches (3 GPS, 3 VOR/DME, 1 LOC, 1 LOC BC, 4 ILS, 1 VOR/DME, 2 LDA, 1 SDF [only two of these in service the US!], and 1 VOR). 

 Stay tuned for further details!

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

"Cheesesteak One"

January 2, 2015 dawned sunny and clear.  The mission was simple:  Settle for ourselves the age-old question of which Philadelphia institution makes the better cheesesteak: Geno's or Pat's. If you're not familiar with this South Philly culinary rivalry, check out this article in the L.A. Times  or watch this video: 

Our gang of three was blessed with a most excellent tailwind for the 316 NM flight. We filed for and received 15G EWC REC HAR KPNE, and ended up flying 15G EWC REC BUNTS KPNE. Total time was 2.0 hours. Takeoff and landing were great, and captured on video for your viewing pleasure:

FlightAware didn't capture it but for a little while we broke 200 knots groundspeed. The air was mostly clear and smooth, if a little hazy, with only a few moments flying over an undercast. 

Had a chance to test the new ForeFlight FF synthetic vision along the way:

No issues with landing on KPNE's Runway 24:

Once on the ground, we pinged Uber for a ride and shortly thereafter, a lovely black Suburban picked us up, with the driver offering us water, gum, mints, and every type of power charger you might need for the approximately 30 minute drive to South Philly.  Our drive was a little longer than it otherwise should have been when, about 1/4 mile away, we ended up behind a garbage truck doing its rounds.  Video proof that you don't want any body parts getting caught in a garbage truck compactor:

Anyway, the trip ended up being fairly costly at $83 each way, but on the plus side, the driver waited for us, so when we were ready to go, all we had to do was jump back in his vehicle and off we went. Almost like being a rock star! (For the record, KPHL is much closer to South Philly and KPNE, and so the ride would have been cheaper, but I wasn't up for dealing with Big Iron.)

The cheesesteaks from both places were fantastic! Produced in massive quantities, you were handed your selection within moments of placing your order. Be sure to read over the choices carefully and know what you want before you get up to the window - these guys are like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld! And, CASH ONLY at both places.  Sandwiches start at about $10, depending on which variety you choose.  Fries are available at both places, though we opted to skip those so we could sample a full size sandwich from each. But don't miss trying the Birch Beer soda while you are there.

The verdict among our group was that Pat's was overall the better of the two, although I thought the bread at Geno's was slightly superior. We stuffed  a cooler with six extras from Pat's and brought them home for lucky family members.  Before departing, we walked around a bit and saw some of the local sights -- including a gaggle of nuns who were also dining on some of Geno's finest subs:

Our flight back was, of course, substantially longer, thanks to the great tailwind becoming a nasty headwind. Also, ATC decided to test my Garmin 480 and ForeFlight programming skills. Instead of KPNE -> 15G, our full-route clearance was KPNE PTW V12 BOYER V170 RAV V276 CIP V6 YNG 15G.  
The only hiccup to this was "V276 CIP." Both the Garmin 480 and ForeFlight protested that this wasn't a valid combination, because CIP doesn't lie on V276. Instead, V276 ends at RASHE intersection, approximately 89 miles southeast of CIP.

Although I should have worked this out on the ground, we launched with a plan to request "direct destination" as soon as clear of Philly's Class B airspace, with a contingency plan to fly V276 from RAV to RASHE, then GPS direct from RASHE to CIP if necessary.  Thankfully, long before we arrived at PTW, we were cleared direct to our home base. 

Anyway, the takeoff was smooth:

Speeds were frustratingly low at 8000 MSL, but eventually a descent to 6000 MSL found the headwind a little less excessive and mightily improved our groundspeed:  

Not surprisingly, the passengers eventually took advantage of the flight to catch up from the rigors of our hectic day:

We arrived home in 3.0 hours with full bellies and big smiles and a nice landing ensued at The Home Base:  

All in all, a great day trip that will help this pilot make it through the travails of another winter in the lee of Lake Erie.  We were one happy flight crew that day!!!

Happy 2015 to all!